SCHOOLIES HEALTH WATCH
Parents urged to come clean on kids as crisis worsens
MEDICS are steeling themselves for an increase in teens suffering a mental health crisis amid the partying at Schoolies.
Festival organisers are urging parents to report if their graduating children have mental health issues to help prepare a special unit set up to look after them.
Luke Lindsay, who heads the Gold Coast Health acute care treatment team at Schoolies, says that, based on trends, the mental health response unit is expecting an increase in numbers needing care.
Mr Lindsay said the team conducted 89 full mental health assessments on students during the festival last year – a 41 per cent jump on 2016.
Assessments included students in crisis, seeking intervention because of suicidal thoughts, exhibiting erratic behaviour or in mental distress.
“We are also seeing an increase in overall presentations at the centre, of 20 per cent year-on-year,” Mr Lindsay said. “Mental health is a vital part of the Schoolies community safety response and this year we are looking to increase the early intervention.”
As part of the approach the Gold Coast Health team of psychiatrists, mental health clinicians and Alcohol and Other Drugs staff wanted information on at-risk school leavers before they arrived.
“Last year we saw around 90 people who proceeded to a full mental health assessment. These are often situations where they are intoxicated, distressed and a lot have preexisting mental health concerns,’’ he said.
“We are trying to push the collaboration with the guardians, so we can be aware of mental health concerns when they present. That way we will also have a point of contact with someone at home and the ability to link in after.”
The suicide of a schoolie in 2012 shocked many at the time but Mr Lindsay said despite the party atmosphere, it was not uncommon for the team to assess and assist students who were having suicidal thoughts.
“The build-up to the week can often lead to a huge amount of pressure on students,” he said.
Specialist care will be available 24 hours a day, seven days a week during Schoolies, with peak times between 6pm-2am. The team can could be contacted on 1300 MH CALL (1300 642 255).